Blog post outline: A FAST & Repeatable process to write outlines [2023 Template Guide]

Writing a blog post takes time and effort, that is, without a blog post outline.

Without a blog post outline, you’ll end up going off topic often, and miss out on key information. Not to mention your SEO will be ruined. 

But, if you take the time to build an outline first, you’ll write your blog post faster and it’ll be a quality piece of content that is search engine optimized. 

This article will cover how you can create a perfect blog post outline. Keep reading. 

How to write a blog post outline

Blog Post Outline TEMPLATE

1. Start the outline with a topic

A blog post begins and revolves around a certain idea, a topic, or a question. Find out what topic your blog post will be on. 

For example, this blog post is based on the question: How to write a blog outline, and the whole post discusses that in depth. 

The topic should reflect in the title

The topic should also be shown in the title. The title should be specific to provide readers with much information as possible. 

The title: How to write a blog post outline is far more specific than the title: Blog post outline. It’s also far easier to rank for. 

Once you have your topic, it is simple to build an outline.

Here’s a list of ways you can research your topic

  1. Google Search: The general search tool used by all
  2. Google Scholar: For research studies
  3. National Institutes of Health: Verified health information
  4. Books: Opinion and/ or fact-based information by authors that may not be found online
  5. Competition sources: Sources used by the competition
  6. Own study: Do the research of your own. Create data of your own. This is great for building backlinks. 

2. Do keyword research 

Once a topic and a decent title are determined, keyword research is the next step. 

Keyword research is the process of determining what keywords and/ or queries users type into search engines that relate to your topic. 

This provides you with information on what your blog post should revolve around, and is valuable in building the outline. 

Doing keyword research is similar to finding subtopics for your topic.

Ask questions. Each question is a Google search query

As mentioned earlier, keyword research will provide you with phrases and queries that you can use to build your outline. 

This means, that queries can be converted into questions (if they aren’t already) you can answer within your post. 

For example, when building an outline for this blog post, the main topic was to discuss in depth, how to write a blog post outline. 

However, when I did keyword research, I added more subtopics including: 

  1. What is a blog post outline?  
  2. Why is writing a blog post outline beneficial?
  3. What to avoid when writing a blog post outline?

Without doing the research, my post would have only been on answering one question, but now, it is far more informative, which is appreciated by both the users, and Google. 

Often, it’s hard to create questions just by looking at words and phrases. 

An easy-to-create question out of nothing is using the 5 W’s and the H. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. 

For example, take the keyword: Blog post outline. By using the 5 W’s, I can create questions with ease:

  1. Who uses blog post outlines
  2. What is a blog post outline
  3. When is it a good idea to use a blog post outline
  4. Where are blog post outlines used most
  5. Why are blog post outlines beneficial
  6. How to write a blog post outline

Of course, not all the questions you create will be something users are wanting an answer for. 

This is why creating questions and merging them with your keyword research is a good idea. 

Create a question, type it into Google Keyword planner, find out how much monthly search traffic it gets and determine if it’s useful to answer it. 

While doing this, the keyword planner will display many other keywords that you’ll be able to use. A single topic can turn into a barrage of questions and subtopics. 

When I first sat down and started my search with the keyword: Blog posts, I ended up with questions and subtopics that can turn into 50 – 70 blog posts. All from 2 words. 

3. Do competitor research [Check their outline]

When you have a list of questions and phrases, place them in Google search and check out the top ranking articles to see what information they offer. 

Often, doing this will give you more subtopics and questions to write about. 

These articles will also inform you about the user’s search intent relating to that topic. 

For example, if your topic is about “which shampoo is the best”, the top ranking pages will be a list of the best shampoos. 

Whereas if your topic is on “How to apply shampoo in your hair”. The top ranking pages will be informative pieces of content. 

Usually, you can figure this out by looking at your topic, but it’s always a great idea to look at the top ranking pages to make sure. 

More than often, you’ll be surprised by how wrong your intuition can be about search intent. 

When analyzing top ranking articles, check out their:

  1. Post structure
  2. Headers: The points they make
  3. Sources of data, metrics, statistics, graphics.
  4. Make sure their content doesn’t clash with yours. For example, if you make certain points on a topic, and they make the opposite points about that same topic. Revalidate the credibility of your points, you may say something wrong. It’s best to correct yourself before publishing 🙂

Plus, the search results also have a section: People also asked. This is a Wikipedia for questions on that topic that people ask for. 

A great place for you to fish out more content. Don’t forget the semantic keywords at the end of the page either. 

4. Start building the blog post outline

At this point, you’ll have a surplus of information you want to have in your blog post. 

Although this sounds great, too much information just becomes a warehouse. 

This is where you need content placement sense. 

Content placement sense is the ability to determine what content should be part of an article and what content should be an article of its own. 

This depends on how much there is to talk about on that topic. For example, I was writing an article on “how to write your first blog post”, and had a subtopic discussing blog post length. 

Upon doing research, I ended up with content revolving around blog post length that could be an entire article on its own. 

With that, I created an entire article on blog post length alone and had a summary of that article in the initial “how to write your first blog post” post. 

If I decided to not have a separate article for blog post length, the initial article would be filled with too much information that would sway away from the overarching topic of writing your first blog post. 

This sense is something you’ll build overwriting several articles. Hence, why it’s always said by all to just start writing and think about the big picture later. 

Build some experience first and then start perfecting yourself. 

Now, with the surplus of information you have, it’s time to identify the main takeaways and the key points in all the information that users are mainly looking for. 

Find those points and place them on a list. 

Create hierarchy

With the list you created above, it will all be jumbled-up points. This is the step where you sort it out. Remember, you have the main topic. 

The main topic will have a list of subtopics. Within each subtopic, there will be sub-subtopics. 

Go through the list, sift out the points, and place them in the hierarchy. 

This is where you’ll start seeing an outline being created. The outline comprises an H1 tag, H2 tag, H3, and H4 tags. 

All those points will be under these tags depending on the importance and relevance it has to the main topic or the H1 tag. 

This step may sound similar to the previous steps of just finding points to place in an outline. 

But, it’s not. In the previous steps, you merely just determined topics to write about. 

But this is the step where you organize all that information in a way that makes sense when it is read. 

Continue revising, removing, and reorganizing points in each section/ tag of the outline. 

Remember, a great outline makes it easy to write out the article and a bad outline makes it nearly impossible to write a good sensible article. 

Side note. The tags represent both, the hierarchy and importance of the information. 

If you have an H2 tag followed by H3 tags, Google will see those H3 tags as sub-topics of the H2 tag that aren’t as important as the H2 tag information. 

Many bloggers just use different tags to show the importance of the information without having an order in place. They’ll have something like: 

  1. H1 tag
    1. H3 tag
    1. H2 tag
    2. H2 tag
      1. H4 tag
      1. H3 tag
      2. H3 tag 

The above will confuse and piss Google off. Instead, your post should follow an order like the following:

  1. H1 tag
    1. H2 tag
      1. H3 tag
      2. H3 tag
        1. H4 tag
    2. H2 tag
    3. H2 tag
      1. H3 tag
        1. H4 tag
        2. H4 tag
    4. H2 tag

As you can tell, the second one is well organized and easy to understand. 

5. Include source links

If you have sources that support your information, include the links to them inside the outline under the specific section as a side note. 

When you go ahead and write the article, the link will be there ready for you to stick in. 

Add information to the blog post outline that you may forget.

Often, you’ll have something specific or cool you’ll want to mention in the article. But, as humans, we forget things. 

So, just add it in as part of your outline (similar to adding in links from above). For example, you’ll find yourself writing an outline one day but then writing the actual article a week later. 

But, while writing the outline, you had a dad joke you wanted to add in. Naturally, you won’t remember that specific thing a week later. 

So make sure you have your dad jokes in your outline, or your article will be out of line. Yea, that was bad.

Add more data to strengthen the purpose of the outline.

Now, you’ll have a decent outline. But, don’t stop here. Add in more key points, pieces of data, facts, specific arguments or claims within each subsection. 

This will only build more structure in your resulting article. The better the structure, the easier it is to understand the content, for both, readers and Google. 

6. Does a blog post outline need an introduction and conclusion?

If an outline doesn’t have an introduction and conclusion section, it’s not an outline. 

Many get the idea that introductions and conclusions are like the ones you wrote for your Shakespeare essays back in school. 

No. In blogging or professional writing, introductions and conclusions are supposed to summarize the article in a manner that gets readers to read the entire article.

Meaning intros must have the spiciest of content from your article, and the conclusion needs to display a strong call to action. 

Side note. Having an introduction and conclusion isn’t necessary and depends entirely on what your article is about, as well as your writing style. 

Have an outline to outsource writing

This is for bloggers who are creating outlines to outsource it. 

When telling someone else to write an article for you with just an outline, it’s important to provide as much detail in the outline as possible. 

When you create an outline, you have a picture in your mind of how the article will flow and in which direction it will flow. 

But, someone else won’t be able to see that picture with just a mere outline. Though, you can make it easier for them by giving them as much detail as possible.

AVOID THIS with blog post outlines

An outline is just the skeleton of your article. The blog post outline does not:

  1. Require proper grammar.
  2. Need a branding voice. 
  3. Should not have paragraphs, & should only have bullet points
  4. Be a list of just H2 tags. It should use H2, H3, and H4 tags. Proper tag usage improves SEO.  

What Is a blog post outline?

The outline is the base structure of an article. The outline of any piece of content, not just blog posts, is similar to the skeleton of a human body. 

It holds the main points, the headers, the subheaders, and vital points, that make the article valuable. 

Why does a blog post need an outline?

Many consider an outline to be an additional thing to do which takes up time. However, creating an outline is similar to creating a blueprint before building a house. 

Imagine creating a house without a blueprint to follow. It’ll be a disaster. Outlines are just as important. 

Having one keeps your blog post organized, and well structured, and makes it easier to consume. It also helps with the following.

Block Writer’s block

All writers suffer from writer’s block. It’s the inability to write. 

A known way to step out of writer’s block is to think of a single idea and create questions and subtopics around it. 

That makes it easier to write. As mentioned above is exactly what an outline is. 

Editors need outlines

As discussed earlier, in-depth outlines make it easier for others to understand what you want your blog post to be about, including your editor. 

Outlines keep user intent prioritized, not your intent.

When creating an outline, you still haven’t entered the phase of writing, which is when you only think about only writing. 

Instead, you still can think of the big picture, of what your blog post is supposed to do. Which is to solve your reader’s needs. 

Outlines and focus are best friends

With an outline, you won’t go off track with some random topic or story. An outline is a template, which keeps your mind and writing within boundaries. 

Meaning, that it keeps you focused. 

Research time is minimized

When you have an outline, you know exactly what research you need to do and what you have done before writing. 

Researching while trying to write ruins your focus. 

That consumes time and affects the quality of your writing.  

Outlines unknowingly dominate SEO

When outlining, you can think about SEO. An outline allows you to properly answer questions and discuss topics that users are searching for on Google. 

That is smart SEO. Now, the post you’ll write will be exactly what your readers were looking for, and not your bedtime story about pineapples growing on trees.